The Young and the Restless stars host high tea with fans

Dec 12 2013, 10:55 AM by Mairin Prentiss

While sci-fi and sports fans might steal the spotlight with costumes and tailgating, the all-round dedication of a soap fan is unrivaled.
Fans gathered for high tea in Toronto earlier this week to meet The Young and the Restless stars Kate Linder (Esther Valentine), Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin), Jess Walton (Jill Foster Abbott Fenmore) and Marco Dapper (Carmine Basco) in support of March of Dimes.

Linder, who’s been putting together charity meet-and-greet events for years, says it’s all about the fans.

“Oh, it’s fabulous, because if it wasn’t for the fans we wouldn’t even be here,” says Linder, “For me they are a huge part of this—they’re the main part of this.”

“I’ve watched them through the years because they come back and then they bring other people, and I’ve watched them grow and watched their kids grow.”

That intimacy works both ways though, Walton says.

“The Young and the Restless is really popular here in Toronto and when you first walk out into that room with all those people and to see the joy and connect with people that feel like they’ve know you forever—and in fact they have—it’s the most wonderful feeling, even above and beyond the charitable aspect.”
In the tearoom, ladies and gents gathered in a hushed anticipation while enjoying crumpets, scones and cucumber sandwiches.

The stars took the stage and—after some necessary cooing over young blood Dapper’s single status—the fans dove right into questions about upcoming storylines.

What’s happening with Feisty Phyllis? We want her back!” said one woman, followed by a very encouraging chorus from the room.

Actress Michelle Stafford recently left the show, after 15 years in role of Phyllis Newman, to start her own comedy web series The Stafford Project. Y&R put her character into a coma but the fans all agreed they would love to see Stafford come back to their world.

“She’s actually very lucky she’s in a coma which means there’s always hope,” said Jess Walton.

A Truman Capote-esque gentleman chimed in on who he’d like to see ditched.

When are you going to kill Sharon? I watched everyday and I’ve only had one martini and I’m sitting there saying, ‘get rid of that rotten b**ch’” he said, followed by a wild applause from the crowd.

“Is the dark side of Michael resurfacing?” asked another, “Because I love dark Michael."

Linder suggested to the fans that they should leave their comments and story ideas online —adding that the writers pay attention to what the fans say.

“It’s important to let the show know how you feel,” said Linder. “Believe me, they do pay attention. If you want to see something, whatever it might be, like ‘Jill be nice to Esther’ you just need to go on there and leave lots and lots of lots of comments.”

Walton said fans tend to get upset when the writers don’t pay attention to the history of the show, but acknowledged that it’s no easy gig.

I do think of the audience a lot when I think of a funeral, for example, when somebody who should be there is not there,” Walton said. “I don’t know what you can do about it. It’s a really tough job to write a show every day.”

Linder, Walton, LeBlanc and Dapper went on to auction off vacation packages, show props and makeovers for the March of Dimes’ Conductive Education program -- a learning system that combines education and rehabilitation to help children living with neuro-motor disabilities become more mobile and independent -- with help from host Leslie Roberts, anchor of The News Hour and co-host of The Morning Show on Global Toronto.

“No one’s paid for this and they donate their time to raise money for March of Dimes. We already saw the March of Dimes offices and to see the work they do and how people are benefiting from this just makes me so very happy,” said Linder. “Not only are we doing good things but everyone has a great time, so it’s a win-win situation.”

“These people will now have a life. They’re going to be active members of society. They’re going to be able to participate in society and give back to society. To see the progress they’ve made is unbelievable.”

But the annual event at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel isn’t your only chance to meet Linder. She has also been working as a United Airlines flight attendant for years, well before she came on board with Y&R in 1982.

Recently, Linder was flying when she found out she was getting a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame— and the very proud flight captain announced the good news to everyone onboard.

“It’s like doing a personal appearance on the airplane—because a lot of people will know, and they’ll go ‘Esther!!’ and a lot of people don’t know so then they’re shocked.”